Posts in Brain Food
Skin Glow Salad
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Hi everyone! 

Today's post complements the Skin Glow Foods video on YouTube. I've been having a few conversations on the channel lately about the importance of tending to our physical bodies so that we can feel good, both physically and mentally, when we're tending to our creative work. Our bodies are our creative vessels. And if we take care of them, they'll show up and take care of us when we want to get to the juicy stuff, the creative stuff. This has nothing to do with being superficial. Our bodies give us the opportunity to express ourselves creatively in this physical world, so taking care of them is taking care of our creativity. 

With that said, I talked about my three favorites skin glow foods: papaya, avocado and dark leafy greens. If you want to learn a little more about them, check out the vid =) But really, these foods give me so much more than just glowy skin. They're three of my daily staples for my overall health and wellbeing. They're filled with enzymes, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals that keep my body strong, healthy, and yes GLOWING on the inside and out.

I love incorporating these foods into my daily meals. They work especially well in smoothies and salads. Avocado with extra-virgin olive oil complements pretty much anything, but I especially love adding this combo to soups or stews.  

To make it really easy for you to incorporate them into your daily regimen, I thought it'd be fun (and useful) to create a recipe that includes all three of these little health warriors. This salad works great as a yummy and energizing light lunch, and it's also a delicious side dish. 

 

Skin Glow Salad (1 serving) 

Ingredients 

For the Salad
1/2 cup papaya chunks
1/2 avocado
2 handfuls of your favorite organic dark leafy greens
(spinach, kale, Swiss chard etc. all work great) 
Goat/sheep milk feta cheese (to crumble on top, optional)
1 tbsp hemp seeds (to sprinkle on top, optional) 

For the Dressing
2 tbsps organic extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsps red wine vinegar
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsps coconut aminos/ or a dash of Real Salt
(I highly recommend investing in a bottle of coconut aminos, they're a delicious and healthful alternative to soy sauce, my favorite brand is Coconut Secret: http://amzn.to/2pw5KTT

Mix all dressing ingredients in measuring cup/mug. Add 2 tbsps of dressing to bottom of your favorite salad bowl. Add greens and papaya chunks. Toss well making sure that all leaves are covered with dressing. Garnish with avocado slices, crumble feta (if using) and hemp seeds. If you like, drizzle remaining dressing on top; the dressing also stores well in the fridge for a few days if you have any left over =) 

Enjoy and may you all glow from the inside out! 

With love and creativity,

Leah <3

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words & photos by Leah Salinas
 

Cashew Coco Cardamom Truffles ~ An (almost) Sugar-Free Treat

I had a beautiful conversation with Jules the other day about the purpose of, well, all this. It's so easy to get caught up in all of the superficialities of how many followers you have and how large your audiences are and all of that nonsense. Even when you ardently tell yourself that you don't care about all of that. Do ya feel me? Well, hashtag human, as my husband and I like to say whenever we catch ourselves wallowing in one of our less desirable, but very human, qualities. 

Jules really brought it back for me. She asked me to remind myself of my why. Such a simple and powerful thing to do. So I did. And I feel compelled to share it with all of you: 

I want to share health, wellness and lifestyle tools that will support you with tapping into your highest creative potential.

 It's that simple.  

Jules and I also spoke about community and the importance of listening to what our community is asking for. In my last post I already spoke about my passion for connecting with my peeps and listening & responding to all of your questions & curiosities. It brings me so much joy that many of you are actively engaging with the Cardamom and Coffee world. The other day, one of my friends asked me for advice on how she can cut down on eating too much sugar. This is an important question and very much connected to tapping into your creative peak potential. Making shifts to eating more wholesome foods over the past few years has naturally led me to minimize my sugar consumption. I found that as I made these changes I became more focused, more energized and less distracted by cravings, making it easier for me to tap into a state of creative flow.  

There are so many different elements to lowering sugar consumption (which I'm happy to delve into in more detail in a future post). But I've found that one useful tool is to create treats that still speak to your sweet-tooth, but aren't overly sweet. What I've observed over the years is that it's not necessarily the sweetness in desserts that I crave, but rather, the texture. I love things that are creamy, or crunchy, or crispy. Or a combination of these three things. If the texture is there and there's just a hint of sweetness, bam, I'm satisfied. I've also found that if my desserts contain some form of healthy fat, it's easier for my body to assimilate the sweetness, and I'm more likely to feel satisfied because my body is essentially recognizing my treat as a food. I almost always add cinnamon to my desserts; this keeps my blood-sugar levels stable and I don't get that sugar spike & crash. 

With that said, let's segue into this post's featured recipe: Cashew Coco Cardamom Truffles! These delectable little raw treats contain healthy fats (thank you cashews and coconut oil), cinnamon AND the creaminess is all there. They're very satisfying; I've found that my desserty cravings dissipate after enjoying only one or two. And they're also a lovely before bedtime snack (which is when I often crave something sweet), or as a mid-day pick-me-up (they'll boost your energy levels thanks to the coconut oil). Cashews have a natural sweetness to them, so you can make this recipe completely sugar-free, or you can add a dollop of raw honey if you want to add a little bit of extra, but healthy, sweetness. I love them either way.

Ingredients (makes approx. 10-12 truffles)
(use organic whenever possible) 

Food processor or NutriBullet 

2 cups raw cashews
3 tbsps coconut oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean
1/4 tsp Real Salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (optional, I always like to sneak in some of this anti-inflammatory magic)
1/4 tsp fennel powder (optional, for some extra tummy love) 
5tbsps shredded coconut (plus some extra for coating the truffles) 
Raw, unfiltered honey (optional garnish) 

Combine all ingredients except the shredded coconut in your food processor or NutriBullet. If you're using a NutriBullet, I recommend using the flat blade. Grind until everything transforms into a fine powder (this takes about 5-10 seconds). Using a knife, scrape the powder from the sides and continue to grind until you have a smooth and creamy paste (yes, you have just made homemade cashew butter!! =)) Transfer your mixture to a bowl. Place in freezer for 30 minutes, stir occasionally to prevent any clumps from forming. 

After 30 minutes, remove from freezer and stir in the 5 tbsps of shredded coconut. Using your hands, shape the mixture into truffle-sized balls. I use about 1 tsp worth of mixture for each truffle. Spread the remaining shredded coconut on a plate and coat the truffles in coconut (this will help with the stickiness and will allow the truffles to hold their shape). Place finished truffles in a glass container. If you want to enjoy your truffles ASAP, they'll be ready after hanging out in the freezer for 15 minutes. Otherwise, put lid on glass container and place in fridge for 1 hour or longer. When you are ready to taste your treats, you can enjoy them as is, or add a dollop of honey to them. They'll keep in your fridge for several days, if not longer, but you'll probably finish them fairly quickly ;-). 

I am grateful for all of you. Enjoy your treats!!! 

With love & creativity,

Leah
 

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author: Leah Salinas // photos by: Leah Salinas

Chocolatey Banana Cake

Dear Everyone!

Today's post is a special one for me. I posted a picture of this scrumptious cake on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and received several requests for the recipe, which led to the creation of what you are reading right now! The reason that this is so special, is that I am very passionate about community engagement. And nothing could bring me more joy than to share a post that is inspired by my community. 

This cake is a take on Christina Avaness' recipe for Chacocoban Cake in her book Living Beyond Organic- nutritional knowledge redefined! (1) Christina is my dear friend and mentor and she has taught me so much about foods that nurture my body and my creativity. So it's a huge honor to share this yumminess in honor of her! 

And since I always like to weave in my two cents as far as creativity goes... even though this recipe is a desserty treat, it'll still nourish your creative vessel thanks to an abundance of coconut oil, dark chocolate and, of course, BANANAS. The medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) found in coconut oil feed your brain cells and boost your energy & endurance. Dark chocolate and bananas are both memory and mood boosting. Also, I love this recipe because it doesn't require any added sugar. The sweetness comes purely from the bananas & the dark chocolate. So you don't end up getting a crazy sugar rush, but rather, can focus fully on tasting all of the yummy flavors. 

Ingredients
(use organic whenever possible)

One 9" x2" pie dish (I know this technically isn't a pie, but for some reason I enjoy using a pie dish when I'm making this cake) 

4 large bananas (as ripe as possible. If they're already starting to look brown and kind of unappealing, that's exactly how you want them to look =))
1 cup raw coconut flour
1/2 cup organic sprouted wheat flour
1/2 cup organic barley flour
2.5 cups goat milk (any type of nut milk works great as well) 
3/4 cups raw coconut oil
3oz 70% organic baking chocolate, chopped into course chocolate chips (I love Theo. If you want your cake to be really deep and chocolatey, you can use a higher cacao percentage. But because I'm not using any other types of sugar, I've found that I like my chocolate chips slightly sweeter for this recipe)
1/2 cup dry roasted almond slivers (optional, for extra crunch)
3 tsps organic vanilla extract
2 tbsps organic baking powder
1/2 tsp organic baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch Real Salt
organic chocolate syrup (to drizzle on top, optional) 

Preheat oven to 375º. Combine bananas, vanilla extract and coconut oil in a bowl, mash together with a fork. Stir in chocolate chips and almond slivers. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and Real Salt. Whisk until all dry ingredients are distributed evenly. Add dry ingredients and goat milk to banana mixture in half-cup increments, gently stirring as you go along. Once all ingredients are mixed together, add to greased pie dish (I used the leftover coconut oil to grease my dish). Place in oven. Bake for 45-60 min. Note that your knife will never come out completely clean because of the moisture of the bananas. Remove from oven & let cool. Once the cake has cooled, I love drizzling it with organic chocolate syrup. 

This cake is super yummy by itself. But I can imagine that adding a scoop of vanilla coconut milk ice cream will make it even more decadent. 

Other than chocolatey banana cake goodness, things that are happening in my life right now include: another secret project I am working on! I say another, because before it was birthed into creation, I referred to this blog as a "secret project" as well. I've found that there's a certain power in not revealing what you are working on until it becomes a tangible, concrete thing. That doesn't mean that I'm not bursting with excitement to share this secret endeavor with you all, but I know that for the time being, I'll pour that energy into the work of completing it. So, I better stop writing about it before something slips out... 

May this yummy banana cake treat your creativity, your sweet tooth and your soul.

I wish you all so much creativity, joy and inspiration.

Leah 

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author: Leah Salinas // photos by: Leah Salinas

Sources

(1) Avaness, Christina. Living Beyond Organic- nutritional knowledge redefined!. Las Vegas: Tiara Publishing, 2009. Print. p. 154

Summer Stone Fruit Salad

The past few weeks have felt a little challenging. I've felt sad about some of the events happening around the world. And on a more personal, immediate level, I've been going through a period of time where I seem to have an exorbitant amount of paperwork to tend to. I can't think of anyone I know who relishes the act of diving into administrative tasks (although I know you're out there, you lucky souls, you!!), but that doesn't mean that organization and getting all of your ducks in a row isn't absolutely essential. As human beings we tend to seek the path of greatest comfort, so I resisted my pile of paperwork at first. But as you can probably guess, this only made me feel worse. I came to the point where I realized that I was spending all of this time THINKING about doing these tasks, so I might as well just get up off of my booty and actually DO them. And when I finally took that leap (I feel silly referring to this as a leap, but hey, in my case it takes a leap to get into all of that paperwork goodness), something wonderful happened. And yes, it's creativity related (or else I wouldn't bore you with my relationship to administration). Even after only checking some of these items off of my to-do list, I felt like I had created this new space in my mind and in my life. Space that I could now fill up with fresh creative inspiration. This whole experience was a gentle reminder of how important it is to sometimes focus on the boring, organizational stuff. If nothing else, so that you can feel fully supported in knowing that everything is in order when you're turning your attention to the fun & creative work.

What does all of this have to do with summer stone fruits? Well, not much really. Apart from the fact that while I was taking care of administration, and feeling a tad stressed, I reminded myself to turn to things that bring me joy. And right now, one of those things are summer stone fruits. The fresh farmers-market kind, all ripe and juicy and sweet and yummy. I just can't get enough of them. When I bite into them I feel like I'm biting into summer, and all that's wonderful about it; the sunshine, the warmth, the colors and the joy. When I'm at the market, I get so excited about all of those beautiful plums and nectarines and peaches that I sometimes go a little overboard and buy a few too many. Which is totally okay. Because it inspires me to create awesome new recipes to share with you. Like this one. I love dishes that are savory-sweet, and this is definitely one of them. Also, the high-enzyme content in the stone fruits makes this salad really easy to digest, so that your body can access all of those immune-boosting, creativity-building nutrients. Bon appétit =) 

Ingredients (for one large bowl) 
(use organic whenever possible)

1 6oz bag  baby spinach (heirloom spinach is delightful as well, if you can get your hands on it)
1-2 cups of your favorite summer stone fruit, chopped into pieces
1 medium avocado
1/2 cup crumbled goat or sheeps milk feta
1/3 cup pine nuts/ slivered almonds/ sunflower seeds for extra crunch

Salad Dressing

3 tbsps. mustard
2 tbsps. coconut aminos
2 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1tbsp. raw honey

Guidelines

Combine all dressing ingredients in a cup or a small bowl, whisk together and set aside. Combine all salad ingredients, except feta & nuts/seeds, in your favorite large bowl. Mix dressing with salad. Garnish salad with feta & nuts. Depending on how much dressing you like, you may have some left over, it'll store wonderfully in your fridge for your next salad adventure. 

Creativity Boosters

All summer stone fruits have amazing creativity boosters. So regardless of which ones you choose, you'll be nurturing your creative vessel (aka, your bod =)). Here are the properties of some of them:

Peaches ~ Peaches are rich in beta-carotene, which protects your cells from free radical damage. In order for your body to be able to absorb beta-carotene, it requires fat (1); the olive oil, avocado & feta in this salad takes care of this =). Peaches are also high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium & iron. (2)

Nectarines ~ Nectarines have a similar nutritional profile to peaches (they belong to the same species), and they actually have slightly higher concentrations of Vitamin A and C. (3)

Plums ~ The fiber in plums helps to regulate the digestive system. As someone who has experienced a sensitive tummy in the past, I love any type of food that is easy on the stomach and promotes digestion. I feel like I can function so much better creatively when everything down there is working smoothly ;-) Plums are also awesome for your nervous system, thanks to the high concentration of vitamin B-6. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates serotonin production, which supports sleep, appetite and concentration. (4)
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Enjoy your beautiful bowl of summery stone fruit sunshine and may it bring some brightness into your life if you're experiencing any dark moments!

with love & creativity,

Leah

--
author: Leah Salinas// photos by: Leah Salinas

Sources

(1) Britton, Sarah. My New Roots: Inspired Plant-based Recipes for Every Season. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2015. Print. p. 150
(2) ttp://foodfacts.mercola.com/peach.html
(3) ttp://superhumancoach.com/benefits-of-nectarines/
(4) https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-plums.html